When Do You Render in the Cloud?
Andrew Wheeler posted on May 28, 2015 |
How asking the right questions about cloud credits, hardware and vendors can save you time

With so much computing power available on the cloud, there are now more options than ever when it comes to rendering. Are certain design and engineering workflows more suited to cloud rendering vs rendering on a workstation or a stand-alone rendering machine?

Making an informed decision is especially tough when most of the information is dependent on the context of the CAD environment you are working in.

 Cost, existing hardware and budget are always considerations when deciding whether or not rendering in the cloud is right for you. If you don’t have money to spend on specialized rendering software and need a one-time job rendered quickly, then it makes obvious sense to pay for it to be rendered on the cloud. If you have a bunch of short run renders, you might not want to plan and wait for upload and download times. Alternatively, you also might not want to buy any cloud credits at all and just upgrade your existing hardware.

 Getting Started

 Before you think about rendering in the cloud, you might consider the following questions to start.

  1. What type of hardware are you using?
  2. Will the users be working on these machines simultaneously, or are the renderers in dedicated render stations?
  3. What are the costs of cloud credits?
  4. Is the credit a full render?
  5. Are the credits counted in relation to how long the render takes place, or how many cores you will be allocated?
  6. What is the cloud rendering company’s upload and download speed like?
  7.  Can you afford to lose a production machine during the rendering process?

Though simulation analysis is a far more common task suited to the cloud (look for an upcoming article on simulation on the cloud) I was curious to know what, if any, situations would drive companies to the cloud for rendering services. Here’s what I found out.

All Things Considered, Rendering on the Cloud Is Still Rare

If a company has purchased a decent amount of cloud credits, they will generally save them for big rendering jobs or final runs. On desktop stations, they’ll check out their setups with test runs to see if they are on the right track or not. If so, they’ll upload to the cloud and let it run for days at a time while they continue other work.

Many companies become interested in the cloud once they reach a tipping point with their hardware and determine whether or not they have enough resources to hire additional help.

If their hardware needs to be updated, the additional expense of cloud credits may not be worth the extra cost.

If the hardware is adequate, and they don’t want to invest in hiring anyone else, they will be able to clearly see the ROI by using cloud rendering.

One option includes the hybrid cloud/local subscription that Autodesk offers after their users did not exactly cheer with delight and jump onto the all-cloud bandwagon.

Cloud performance is vendor specific. When you check out cloud solvers from certain vendors, you are actually checking out a virtual station. Make sure you pay attention to the amount of preconfigured cores and make sure you understand clearly the ratio of file size to cloud credit, and keep in mind your upload and download times.

 You’ll make the right decision.

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